Politics & Government

Macon-Bibb cleans up on court fines during amnesty

People facing overdue fines from Macon-Bibb County Municipal Court have just a few more days to get those reduced.

An amnesty on late fees and charges for not showing up in court will end March 31.

Court officials got a surprise from results of the amnesty’s first seven weeks: They collected more per month in reduced fines than they had in the previous month with additional penalties attached.

In February when the amnesty started, the court collected $145,198.94. That’s up about 64 percent from January, when it collected $88,814.80, according to a report from court staff and County Manager Dale Walker.

Those who owe on citations and fines, including for non-attendance at a court hearing, can come in during the two-month amnesty and have their late fees waived. For any fines not paid by April 1, however, the full penalty will be reinstated.

“This is a win-win for the court to minimize its backlog and for the citizens to save money on paying fines, to reinstate their licenses and to relieve themselves of potential warrants being issued for their arrest,” Municipal Court Director Terry Bizzell said in announcing the amnesty.

During the first 19 days in March, the court collected $89,000.50. If the trend continues, Macon-Bibb is on track to get about $119,000 for the month, according to the report.

Altogether 1,364 citations had been paid between Feb. 1 and March 19, the report said. That’s a far better total than the last time Municipal Court held an amnesty to clear old cases.

It last happened in December 2013, lasting only a month, and drew payment of just 153 citations totaling $19,450, according to court records.

If original fines are paid in full, Municipal Court will give the offender a letter for the Department of Driver’s Services in case the earlier failure-to-appear citation caused a driver’s license suspension. The letter will allow reinstatement of a driver’s license.

Payments can be made between 8 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday at Municipal Court, on the ground floor of Macon-Bibb County Government Center, 700 Poplar St.

For more information call Municipal Court at 751-7154.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.